Biking around at Rottnest Island, Western Australia
When in Perth you must and you probably will pay a visit to Rottnest Island. Where Western Australia (WA) is known for it's dry deserts, gold rush and wild outback, this small archipel shows you the direct opposite: laid back atmosphere, salty sea breeze and picturesque scenery of some of the world's finest beaches.
My journey starts in Perth, the capital of WA. A city that once only existed of gold miners and adventurers. The wild west of Australia began and ended right here, where you could trade your found gold nuggets to real dollars (or the other way around if you prefer). From Perth I drive to Fremantle, a cute little town at the mouth of the Swan River. From here I take a ferry (a return ticket is around 35 AUD) to cross the 19 kilometers distance between the island and the western coastline.
I'm not a big fan of boat rides, I've been seasick for way too many times. So I was in quiet distress when I saw the little paperbacks provided by the captains hands. I was going to be a 'bumpy' ride, he said. Knowing this I found myself a good spot at the rear end of the boat with a view on the horizon. This saved my day, since it WAS indeed a bumpy ride.
Gladly I made it all the way to the island, without getting sick. Though the thought of my way back was already troubling my mind, I was happy to set foot on solid ground. The little town where you arrive when entering the island feels a bit like a theme park. There were signs everywhere! On the ground trails of colored footsteps to follow to whatever you were looking for. Yellow for bikes, red for a train ride, blue for the tourist info desk. There were tourists everywhere and people in striking shirts to help them find their way. NOT what I was hoping for...
You can imagine I did my very best to get out of the madness and rent myself a bike (I'm still a Dutchie) to get out of there as fast as I could!
With a map on my phone (thanks to one of my fav travel apps Maps.Me) I started my tour. I went up to the North shore, from Longreach Bay to Geordie Bay to Parakeet Island, where I went for a short swim at Little Amsterdam Bay (yup, really). This is one of the smaller beach and way less crowded than the others on my way.
From there I cycled all the way West passing Catherine, City of York, Stark and Rocky Bay. There are soooo many great white beaches, I just wanted to stop everywhere for a swim! Some touristic, some completely abandoned. Some with massive rock formations, some with a lot of boats in the bay. But all as pretty as wonderful.
At the Narrow Neck of the island I rested a bit. Put my feet in the sand and my mind wandered off. I had my self prepared lunch and enjoyed the moment of being alone at this lovely island. Away from all the buzz and fuzz that was happening on the other side. And in that moment, at Rocky Bay Beach, a little quokka showed up next to me. These are just the cutest 'rats' that I have ever seen, if you may call them rats at least. Curious and bold it came closer to see if I had anything to eat (I guess). These animals risk becoming extinct and Rotto is the ONLY place on earth where they still exist. When arriving at the island you will be informed about all of the wildlife here, so I knew better and stayed back from the animal to let it be. I did take a picture of it though ;-)
On my way back to the playground I past by this great surfing bay, and I should have known about it cause it looked as a great place to catch some waves!! But my only ride of today was my bike, so I went on to the centre of the island: the Wadjemup Lighthouse! A great location to have extraordinary views over the entire island. Absolutely recommended to pay a visit, despite of a few hills you have to conquer.
From there it was an easy ride back to my starting point, all roads were going down and with the wind in my back it was a great race. The last piece of my route was the road between two lakes, a beautiful and instagrammable spot for photographers.
Couldn't have done my entire trip without this Travel Guids of Lonely Planet!
When finally back at the small town, I dropped of my bike and sat down at the terrace of the Rottnest Hotel. With a great view at the bay and a cold apple cider in my hand, the day couldn't end any better! (Yes, the boat ride back to shore was fine)
If you don't like biking as much as me, there are many more things to do at Rottnest Island. It's offering almost everything you can imagine. From diving and water tours to segway rentals, walking trails and train/bus tours. There is a small airport, so you can also go for a flying tour over the island. You can go for SUP, surf and snorkle. There are festivals, weddings and corporate events happening throughout the year. You can rent a house, stay at a hotel, go to a sportsbar, heck they even have a Subway! Madness!
As you can see, there is a lot to do! But you can also experience the island like I did. In quietness and away from the touristic stuff. Which makes it a great and wonderful island for everybody!